17/05/17 I love Tories!!!

Who the…? How the…? What the…?
You know, you can be quite eloquent when you put your mind to it…

No, I haven’t changed. I’m still the same old left of left leaning idealist who thinks that people are fabulous. 

They are! You’ll just have to trust me. 

Remember, I’ve done the research so you don’t have to. But please, feel free to get out there and talk to folk…

On my ramble I’ve met lefties, righties, Liberal Democrats, Conservative voters, labour voters, Corbynistas and UKIPPERS… I’ve met Brexiteers and folk who would much rather we remained in Europe. I’ve met Scottish Nationalists who think we’d be better off separate and others who have offered anything and everything in between. 

The similarities I’ve found with these representatives from all of these walks of life – people I’ve actually met so I can comment on – is that when they were presented with a wandering lunatic, with no money, their first thought was…

‘How can I help?’

‘Let’s talk…’

and

‘Here’s my story…’

The only difference between me and many of these people was that we voted differently. 

And that’s all. 

I lean and vote to the left because of what I believe, what I know, what I believe I know and what I feel. 

I don’t think I’m different from anyone else. 

That said…

When I meet people who vote differently from me, especially those on the right, I find it nearly impossible to fathom why they – why you – why we would do so.

Over the past 10 years or so, I’ve watched as heinous policy after heinous policy has been passed – destroying the lives of people in poverty, vulnerable people, people with disabilities, people with mental health problems – vulnerable people, time and time again. 

Does that make the people who vote for the government evil, or equally heinous? 
Does that make the MP’s behind these policies the sons and daughters of Satan? 

Hold that thought. 

Here are the reasons why I wouldn’t consider voting Conservative at the upcoming election. 

Please take a look and tell me your thoughts whether you think I’m right or wrong. 

Over the last few years we’ve seen a continued and sustained attack on the poor and vulnerable. 

Benefit claimants have been pilloried as skivers and scroungers – we’ve seen the introduction of the bedroom tax that’s actively discriminated against people with a disability who require overnight support or who, for whatever reason, can’t sleep with their partners. 

We have a media that’s manufactured a belief that people claiming disability benefits do so fraudulently – when that figure is around 0.5%.

We allow landlords to discriminate against people with disabilities and mental health problems by advertising their properties whilst declaring the timeless legend, ‘No DSS/ DWP/ Benefits Claimants’ 

We’ve put caps on housing benefit – a benefit that’s claimed by more working people than unemployed. We forget and/ or ignore that, at the same time missing the fact that this money goes to landlords and not the benefit claimant. 

Why? 

We’ve seen legal aid being cut to the bone, to the point where fewer and fewer people have recourse to justice for fewer and fewer reasons. 

Is it ok to have a legal system that excludes the poor? 

We’ve all stood and watched as the Independent Living Fund has closed. This was a fund that was set up to supplement the input of social work and social services – money that focused on ensuring that people with disabilities and/ or mental health problems live as independent lives as possible. 

Remploy – an organisation set up to support the same folk to find a way into employment has all but ceased to be. 

Bearing in mind that, while 80% of people with a mental health problem want to be in employment, the actual figure is closer to 13%. How much is that costing us financially, morally and economically? 

Overall, I understand the NHS is £12 billion in arrears. We hear that private organisations, such as Virgin Care, are keen to buy up the predictable, steady income bits of our health service, while the scrappy, unpredictable bits will be left to us. 

I regularly speak with people who say we can’t afford the NHS. 

On reflection I’m not sure I know what they…you mean by that.

It feels like they – you’re – saying that you think this cost should be met by…who…? 
Not you…not the taxpayer…but folk with illnesses, long and short term…?

At the same time failing to imagine you will never be the recipient of those services…? 

You might have private healthcare…so you’re fine…? Unless, of course, you have a pre-existing condition…so we’ll need some semblance of the NHS to pick up those pieces? 

Because the privatised model has worked so well in the States – the country where more is spent per head of population than anywhere else in the world, while millions have little access to that healthcare that we take for granted…hasn’t it? 

We can’t afford it? Is there any less money in the country? 

Well, the Times rich list tells us that the richest 100 folk and families in the U.K. increased their wealth last year by £53 billion.

Hmmm…strokes chin thoughtfully…

NHS in £12 billion arrears…wealth increased by £53 billion…?

What is it exactly we can’t afford? 

We have privatised rail services that are costing us, the state, the taxpayer…whoever you consider ‘we’ to be, more than when they were previously nationalised. It does beg the question…

WHERETHEFUCKISALLTHATMONEYGOING????!!!

And…probably on a daily basis…I’m struck with the wonderful irony that the money from our rail services are going to the French and German governments. 

Feel free to apply the same points to our merrily profiteering energy companies…

And, while I’m at it… WHYTHEFUCKDOWEHAVETOPAYFORWATER!!!!???

But if we vote labour they’ll blow the bank just like they did before….!

Er…have you forgotten ITWASTHEBANKERS!!!!!!?

But Corbyn is a Trotsky…!

Ok, I’m a loony lefty – and MY knowledge of Leon Trotsky is limited to that line in ‘No More Heroes’ by the Stranglers where they ask, ‘Whatever happened to Leon Trotsky? He got an Ice Pick that made his ears burn!’

Where’s your point of reference? 

But we’re ‘Strong and Stable’ with the Conservatives – the same Conservatives who have nearly tripled the national debt, whilst squashing folk under the banner of austerity. Something Labour with all their frivolous nationalising ways have never got anywhere near to. 

Perhaps Margaret Thatcher was right when she said there’s no such thing as society? 

I’ll give you a clue here 

NOSHEWASNT!!!!

Let me take you back to the beginning here. 

The people of the UK are kind, generous, hospitable, caring and empathetic. We’re hard wired to socite (this is a verb I’ve made up to describe the human need to gather together in society) 

So I’m fabulous – you’re fabulous – we’re fabulous…

I still can’t fathom why you’d vote Conservative though.

I’m not going to call you stupid, bigoted, hateful, ignorant or racist should you choose to vote differently from me though. Especially since, the last time I looked, throwing insults at folk has never endeared me to anyone in the past, nor has it got them to reconsider their position on…er…well ANYTHING really…

I still love Tories.

Walk a Mile

Chris

Posted in economy, government, hospitality, inequality, kindness, mental health, social work, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

19/04/17 A Guest Blog by Fresh Souls Cartoons. Warning: Contains passion and sweary words.

Prince Harry, of AirWolf fame, had a long interview in some newspaper about various things including the price of cheese and basically threw a hand grenade into the “online mental health community” which constitutes of people like me, trolls and people trying to make a living by selling their own brand of “recovery”.

There appeared to be three reactions:

    That is fantastic. We need more people to talk about mental health, especially rich dudes.

    That is fantastic. We need more rich dudes to talk about mental health so that the rich dudes who actually control the budgets can give the rich dudes who are charity CEOs more money to help the poor dudes.

    What does that rich fucker know about mental illness? He has all the time and money in the world to get better. I’ve got bi polar in a council house and I’ve been waiting 6 months for talking therapy. 

So Harry is rich, royal and has plenty of spare time. Who gives a fuck that his mum was tragically killed and hounded by the same press that applauds him now? Who cares that he served as a soldier for several years and went to war? Who cares that HE has had mental health problems?

Harry did what any other mental health activist would do; used his narrative to sell something.

The very idea that he should be shot down for doing so is fucking hilarious. You know why I decided to publicise my walk and the fact I was having a breakdown? Money. You know why I work in mental health as a peer worker? Money. You know why I draw cartoons? Money.

Let’s strip away the bullshit for a second. Every single mental health activist I know who uses their own narrative is potentially going to get ill again. Every peer worker I’ve ever met will potentially get ill again. 

Mental illness isn’t something that most employers look for but in the charity sector it can look great on your C.V. I have a job where being mentally ill is seen as an essential skill and they pay me for it. I make a good living from it. I draw cartoons that people seem to like and eventually I’ll be able to make money from that and jack in the actual job. I use my own story and skills to make money in whatever way I can so that I can live in a way that I want which then keeps my illness at bay. If I invested as much time to personal therapy as I do to work I could be cured in a month, I’m sure. But I don’t because I can’t afford it and to be honest I’d rather not go to my “dark place” because that seems like an odd thing to pay to do.

I walked around the country and talking about it bores the tits off me. But it’s my thing, right? MY thing. I’ve had great opportunities because of it. I’ve built my life from it. THAT is how I make MY living and if the rest of the “personalities” in the mental health world were honest, they’d admit that too. I don’t do this shit for free and that was always the plan. 

In the words of Henry Hill; fuck you, pay me.

I wish His Helicopterness all the best in his own journey and future mental health projects.

Now I’d like to talk about talking. Or more precisely this shit show that happens every time some one famous talks about mental health.

I work in mental health as a peer worker. I was also training as a psychotherapist until Bill Watterson came to me in a dream and said “You could be the next meeeeeeeee!” and I quit for the life of a hungry cartoonist. 

I’ve been talking for the last 5 goddamn years. Radio, in the paper, online, at events, at my work, in the office, at home to my wife, to random people on the street. You know what it solves? Nothing. Can we stop pretending that talking is some sort of fucking cure to mental illness and the societal stigma that plagues us?

There’s nae cash, nae staff and nae political will to change anything. The drips of money that come from Westminster and Holyrood are woefully inadequate and they know it. We know it too. But we have to play the political game right? We have to be nice otherwise we might find ourselves shafted further down the line.

 You know how copper wire was invented? Two mental health charities fighting over a penny.

 It is a bullshit system that is in dire need of fixing. The NHS can’t cope but if you wait long enough you might get a psychiatric assessment and 6 CBT sessions. And when that’s over, your CPN will be nice enough to punt you off to some charity for befriending or peer support or fucking tomato planting. And eventually that’ll come to an end and they will punt you somewhere else.

There are a few reasons for poor mental health and they could be fixed, not easily, but they could be fixed. Deprived areas, arsehole parents, drugs, alcohol, smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of opportunities and a general feeling of pointlessness all contribute to it and talking won’t fix a fucking one of those things. The only thing that will fix it is action and I’m not in a position to do it. Politicians are. But they don’t think passed their own 4 year life cycle because ultimately they are all terrible bastards.

Many thanks to Fresh Souls Cartoons for this great blog. If you’d like to contribute as a guest blogger – get in touch either here or here – hello@letswalkamile.org

Walk a Mile

Chris

Posted in economy, inequality, mental health, walking | Tagged , | 1 Comment

18/04/17 It’s good to talk…or…let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water…

Just recently I read a well thought out piece, ‘Suicide is Outside Me’ where the author, Dariusz Galasinski, speaks out against the current ‘It’s good to Talk’ rhetoric put forward by well meaning charities (including ours! Gulp! More in that in a bit), the NHS, and a whole host of celebrities, including Prince Harry.

Take a look – it’ll take you less than 5 minutes to read. 

I’ve shared it about the place there’s been a huge response from people saying, ‘Thank God! At last, here’s a blog that resonates with me. Here’s a guy speaking my language!’

So it’s not good to talk? 
I’ve got a tidal wave of personal evidence that tells me that talking only leads to pain…

My old boss who told me I was too nice to have borderline personality disorder…

The GP locum who suggested turning to God…

My ex-colleague, a specially trained social worker – a mental health officer, who did a passable impression of Munch’s ‘The Scream’ as she scurried off when I told her about my diagnosis…

My psychiatrist who declared, ‘You mustn’t see them – these are very sick people…’ when I suggested attending a peer support group with other folk with the stinky BPD diagnosis…

All while my mind was swamped with a confused mess of suicidal thoughts, urges to self harm, delusions, hallucinations and dissociation…

Throw ‘How are you?’ when people actually mean ‘hello’ into the mix and you end up with…er…fuck knows. 

You’re right – people are a bunch of useless bastards. 

Dariusz made a great point when he talked about the power of love and its effects on acting out all those negative thoughts and feelings. 

But, for me anyway, there’s a vast grey area that fills the void between ‘It’s good to talk,’ and ‘Shut the fuck up.’

I’m not going to pretend I have the answers here – but I’ll navigate you through the rocky waters of what phrases like, ‘It’s good to talk,’ mean to me. 

Who do you talk to? 
‘Talk to your mental health professional‘ 

Sorry, my what? 

I’m thinking of starting a campaign to stop calling mental health punters, ‘Service Users,’ because, most people with a lived experience of mental ill health haven’t seen a service – they’re becoming as rare as unicorns on skateboards. 

By the time someone gets to the end of a two year waiting list, only to find that the service they thought they were going to walk into has an assessment process of it’s own – a final, unexpected hurdle – they’ll say anything…ANYTHING in their desperation to get that service – the thought of going back onto some other waiting list is too terrible to contemplate. 

The professional – who is almost invariably a very well intentioned and principled individual – finds themselves in the role of gatekeeper. Something they and many of their colleagues had never foreseen. How can they fit this square peg punter into the round hole of the service? 

What about all the other folk they know of backing up in this ridiculous blocked drain? 
In their stress filled fugue, these same professionals can find themselves responding in bizarre and strange ways to the people in front of them – sometimes because of the system – sometimes because of their own stress – sometimes because they want to impart anything that resembles hope…sometimes a mixture of all 3…

‘You’re looking well…’

‘You’re asymptomatic, so it looks like you’re better…’

‘You’re too ill for our service…’

‘You’re too well…’

‘You’re too high functioning…’

‘We don’t provide a service for that…specific…condition…’

‘You’ve only got a touch of schizophrenia…’

‘Take it or leave it…that’s all we’ve got to offer…’

Or…

‘You’ve won a golden ticket…’ cue the Willie Wonka song…people leaping out of adjacent offices with high fives…strangers hugging you in the street…

And that’s the thing…there are bazillions of great folk out there to talk to – psychologists, psychiatrists, GP’s, nurses, occupational therapists, social workers, police officers, volunteers, carers, support workers…

Many of whom are struggling along in a culture where it’s common to see people with mental health problems as figures to be feared – as manipulative – as attention seeking – as taking up time that could be better spent on folk with ‘Real Problems’ 

It’s good to talk – but only with the right person or the right professional, in the right place at the right time – when you’re feeling resilient enough to deal with, well, any of the above…

It seems my rocky waters have turned into a minefield…

‘Talk to Friends and/ or Family’ 

‘How are you?’ This is a greeting where the questioner actually means ‘Hello’, even when that person is a colleague who knows you’ve been off work with some malady or other. 

I’ve fallen for this on numerous occasions…you can often tell your reply’s too long when the recipient of the finer points of your diagnosis tries to crawl between your legs in a bid for escape.

‘How are You?’ sing songy voice, with a head tilt. 

No matter what the none verbal cues are telling you here – this is not an invitation to punch that person in the face. 

In all seriousness though – people can be terrified about doing or saying THE RIGHT THING!!!

Take a look at these films that show that all it takes is…

The Jonny Benjamin Story

Teenager talks a suicidal man off a bridge

Read about it here

Both of these heartwarming stories demonstrate that you don’t need to be some kind of mental health professional or guru to help someone through a crisis by showing empathy – nor do you need to be prepared with a variety of perfectly formulated responses. 

Bugger – you can see where I’m off to here – I’m so unbelievably transparent. 

I think talking’s a good thing. 

There – I’ve said it. 

What did you expect? I’ve walked around a chunk of our lovely country talking to people about mental ill health. 
The clue’s in the title – ‘Walk a Mile in My Shoes’ 

I think – and we’ve already established that I’m a duplicitous self serving bastard – that setting the scene – providing an environment where talking is er…optimised…is key here. 

Prince Harry

It’s lovely that Prince Harry sought counselling years after he lost his mum. It’s great that his brother supportively prodded him in that direction.

But let’s not pretend. 

 His isn’t the story of me or the thousands of people who need services NOW – TODAY! 

I’m guessing – I’m not entirely sure – that when he said he needed counselling the help he needed appeared shortly afterwards. 

This – however well meaning it was at the outset – is nothing short of victim blaming. 

The public are hearing that the services are there – it’s just up to these silly mental ill health deniers to go and choose what service they want.

My reality – over a year on a waiting list – decades after being wrongly diagnosed – experiencing the terror of the ASSESSMENT after all that time. Would the service suit me? Would I suit the service?

And I was lucky! I got 2 great years of open ended group psychotherapy. A service that has mysteriously dematerialised as part of pseudo efficiency measures.

There are countless people who get a diagnosis and NO SERVICE and no promise of a service. 

 No waiting list…no anything.

It’s great to talk. But who is there to talk to? 

I won’t patronise you with a shopping list of links that tell you about the cuts in mental health services. Any half arsed google search will deliver a cascade of disaster after disaster. 

Don’t be fooled into thinking these are efficiency savings. When your car is more efficient it goes further for less. These cuts mean that the NHS, social care and third sector services don’t.

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

Our campaign with Walk a Mile in My Shoes tells folk it’s good to talk. 

For those of you who don’t know us – this was born out of my UK coastal walk where I, a 50 something ex social worker with Borderline Personality Disorder, carrying more weight than he’d like, decided to walk around the edge of our lovely island – because that’s where many folk with mental health problems feel they are – on the edge – with no money, relying purely on the people I met for hospitality, while talking about mental ill health. 

People have been fabulous – open, honest, ready to talk, and generous to a fault – this is still ongoing. 

In 2015, SeeMe Scotland supported us to distil the obvious success of the coastal walk into a series of events

I’d noticed that although mental health punters and professionals both had a large presence on social media, there wasn’t a great deal of crossover between the groups.

I felt – still feel – that this is indicative of what it’s like in wider society – and that this was partly down to the stressful circumstances they find themselves in when they meet. 

When the person with mental health problems goes to ask for services from their (mental) health professional both groups find themselves in a stressful situation where the professional jealously guards the meagre services they’ve been charged to gatekeep. 

You can multiply that stress by 10 when the person with a mental health problem is sectioned – often because there has been no stitch in time…

This stress is the primordial soup that breeds stigma, discrimination and prejudice. 

At our #LetsWalkAMile events we bring these two disparate groups together to share a social space – to literally walk a mile in each other’s shoes in a place where there is no hierarchy or labels. 

And that’s it. 

We don’t see #LetsWalkAMile as an end in itself – it’s the beginning of something. It’s a countermeasure where we start to combat some of the mess caused by a desperate lack of…anything for many. 

Our hope is that the greater the effect we can have at the grassroots – the personal level, the more we can influence the cultures of mistrust and prejudice – and the greater the effect we have on these cultures, the greater the chance we’ll have at effecting real structural change

It’s taken years for us to get into this mess – change won’t happen overnight – but I believe it will come – even if it is at a rate of one conversation at a time. 

If we don’t talk, nothing will happen.

Walk a Mile

Chris

NB Here’s the response from Dariusz (above) It’s certainly worth a look 

‘Just a brief comment. I think it is good to talk. I object to, as well the anonymous author I quoted, to the rhetoric “It’s OK to talk.”. These are very different messages. The first, which you ascribe to me, suggests that talking is or can be useful. I agree with it. 

The other, which I actually object to, suggests that talking is easy, unproblematic, safe and risk-free. The message ignores all the stigma that comes with disclosure of distress and there is more literature on stigmatisation of distress/mental illness than any other social scientific inquiry into the subject. The message also suggests that people who do not talk somehow don’t know what they do. 

So, yes, it’s good to talk, but let’s not pretend that it is OK to talk. It’s not. And one of the tasks is actually to make it OK to talk.’

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22/03/17 From Blog to Vlog

Yes, I know it’s been a while – I’ve been going through a period of er…quiet reflection.

As you may, or may not, know – Walk a Mile in My Shoes is going through a period of change – of development…

In September last year we became a charity, or, to put it more precisely, a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation – we’re a SCIO.

This allows us – me and our 9 trustees – to build a solid infrastructure so we can do more WaM type stuff – or, more to the point – in more places. 

Ah, but look at me…it’s like I’ve never been away – I’m already digressing…

From blog to vlog.

For the uninitiated – a vlog is a video blog. It’s like a blog, but you have the joy of seeing my smiling face. 

What’s not to like? 

Having received a funky tripod thing and a lapel microphone for my birthday – yes 52 – thank you, yes, I appreciate I look a great deal older, but it was useful in my teens when buying alcohol for me and my under age friends…

Anyway – tripod – microphone – FOCUS!!!

With my lovely new equipment I’ve tried vlogging – both live and recorded – using the fancy dan world of the interweb available to me and my iPhone.

I tried periscope – essentially that’s live broadcasting straight to Twitter – I know, it sounds like black magic – but take a look at my introduction to WaM here

I also tried out live broadcasting on Facebook – my first effort could be best described as, er, sideways

Or, for folk a bit more traditional in their outlook, I also recorded a video on YouTube

For those of you who’ve been with me throughout this rather wonderful journey over the past few years, you’ll probably appreciate an immediate pitfall…

As part of my mental malady, I still find it particularly difficult to look in a mirror. Filming with my smiling face gazing back at me is a lot like for me. Thankfully, the image is small and, with the years my eyesight has deteriorated – so all I really see is a bit of a blob…

Thank you – you’re hilarious – none taken…

The other weird thing for me is, unlike when I’m speaking to an audience, I don’t get that immediate feedback, that little bit of eye contact, the half smile, or that expression that says, ‘What on earth are you talking about?’

But I’ll persevere. 

I like the idea of vlogs – not least because I’ve been advised that your average internet punter doesn’t like to scroll down the page to read stuff…

In which case, I’m buggered. I appreciate I’m probably talking to myself here…

But YOU’RE still here – and that’s all that matters. You were always my favourite…

While you’re here, I’d like to ask you a few questions – I’d love to hear your opinion on a few things.

I’m not about to replace the world of the blog with the vlog – I’m going to merrily continue with both…

So, regarding the vlog. 

1) Which is best? Live or recorded? 
Having asked that, I realise that my live broadcasts have been recorded – so I’m not entirely sure how redundant a question that is…

2) If I’m broadcasting live – is it best to tell the virtual world WHEN I’m scheduled to broadcast?

Then folk can er…tune in as it happens.
Bearing in mind I can’t see any live comments people make as I happily bowl along due to the small screen and less good eyesight combo.

3) Or do I just stick with recording and editing (yeah right!) on the YouTube? 
Then folk can watch – or not – at their leisure.

Or do I bang on with all 3? I guess that’ll be useful for me because I need the practice. 

I don’t feel the inclination to stick with YouTube alone – what with my 6 subscribers and 42 views, I don’t think that’s about to change the world. 

I did indulge myself in exploring how to get some money through YouTube – I don’t think I’ll be retiring on the proceeds just yet. 

In short – any thoughts are welcome.

I do feel slightly like Neanderthal man discovering fire at the moment. 

Yes, it was lovely to see you too – it won’t be so long next time.

Walk a Mile

Chris

Posted in inequality, kindness, mental health, social work, Uncategorized, walking | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

20/01/17 #MadLivesMatter The 4 A’s 

Awareness

Action

Accountability 

Atttudes

The world of the mental health campaigner can be challenging, confusing and riddled with pitfalls.

I think, for too long, I’ve been sharing up to date articles and reports to all in sundry with the mistaken belief that by raising awareness I’d been taking action to change things…

However…I’m not convinced. 

Raising awareness without the other 3 is not unlike some kind of collective bystander apathy – surely if I raise awareness of this heinous thing/ action/ inaction then somebody somewhere must do something??

I don’t think that’s happening – so, please let me know what you think of my brand new, just out of the box, 4 A’s approach to mental health campaigning.


Awareness
– this is the cornerstone of what we’re doing. Without knowledge of what’s going on for folk with mental health problems, people aren’t going to begin to engage with the conversation. Awareness raising on it’s own is limited though. People will flick through, possibly with a tut, or a, ‘Isn’t that terrible?’ under their breaths, before landing on the next thing.


Action
– You could argue that raising awareness IS taking action. And you’d be right.

But is it enough?

What Action are YOU taking to change things? What Action CAN you take… I know, for me with my mental malady, that varies from day to day – hour by hour at times. 

Action could be as simple as having a conversation with someone – a friend, a relative, a work colleague, your postman…

More ostentatiously, you could develop a talk, a presentation, a workshop…

You could join forces with your fellow campaigners…you could organise an event…

You could have a chat with folk who might not necessarily agree with you…

#MadFest ??

You could walk around the edge of the UK…


Accountability
– take ownership of what you’re saying. Unless the people you claim to be speaking on behalf of are truly without a voice – don’t speak on their behalf – speak for yourself, and own it. 


Attitudes
– surely the goal of any mental health campaigner is to change negative attitudes against them and their people. 
You’re not going to achieve that by telling people to shut up. 

I believe that policing language that has been labelled as stigmatising or prejudiced is a red herring. 

Although language is easy to see – and easy to measure – it doesn’t necessarily give us any idea of underlying attitudes. 

Let’s take the example of the Metropolitan Police. I’m sure we’re agreed that their language when dealing with people from minority ethnic groups is exemplary – politically correct to the extreme.

And yet…

If you are a black person living in our capital, you are 5 times more likely to be stopped and searched….

AND…

If you’re found in possession of drugs, you are 4 times more likely to be arrested. 
And all the time, the language used is wonderfully PC. 

Changing attitudes calls for engagement – conversation – openness and a strong desire not to take offence. 

I’ve walked over 4 thousand miles around a chunk of the UK coastline with no money and Borderline Personality Disorder and people have been nothing but fabulous. 

I know. 

And that’s the 4 A’s. 

It really is that simple. 

Awareness

Action

Accountability 

Attitudes

Walk a Mile

Chris

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17/01/17 #MadLivesMatter

Join us over the next few months as we talk about how 

#MadLivesMatter

You’ll hear why we think the wholesale slaughter of people with mental health problems in the UK is way past being unacceptable. 

#MadLivesMatter

That over 6 thousand people take their own lives every year in the U.K., 75% of whom are men – making it the biggest killer of men under 45 in the U.K. 

#MadLivesMatter

Research suggests that under reporting of suicide – possibly due to the stigma attached – by between 30% and 50%, means that figure could be closer to 9000 a year. 

#MadLivesMatter

That people with mental health problems are, on average, dying 20 years earlier than the general population from PREVENTABLE PHYSICAL DISEASES. 

#MadLivesMatter

That the very medication that many of us are taking can lead to massive weight gain, type II diabetes, heart disease and cognitive dysfunction to name but a few. 

#MadLivesMatter

That one in four of us will at some time experience a mental health problem. That’s over 15 million people in the U.K. 

#MadLivesMatter

That 9 out of 10 of the people who have a mental health problem will experience some manner of stigma because of that.

#MadLivesMatter

That Welfare Benefits have been cut in real terms – whether it be through the bedroom tax, cuts to Employment and Support Allowance, or the swingeing sanctioning system where people with mental health problems are hugely over represented.

#MadLivesMatter

That there have been massive cuts to both community and hospital services for people with mental health problems.

#MadLivesMatter

That roughly 75% of our prison population have diagnosable mental health problems.

#MadLivesMatter

That people with mental health problems are hugely over represented in our homeless and rough sleeper population.

#MadLivesMatter

That 13.5% of people with any mental illness are in employment when between 80-90% want to work.

#MadLivesMatter

Medical students who choose psychiatry have been referred to as ‘Pest Controllers’ by their peers.

#MadLivesMatter

We, as a country, have broken every single law in the Human Rights Act regarding our people with mental health problems. 

Every single one. 

#MadLivesMatter

It’s all right for you – you can use the word ‘Mad’ because you’ve been diagnosed with…

We can all use whatever language we want. If ‘Mad’ is all you have then I’m all ears. For me, it’s attitudes that count.

You can’t say the wrong thing. 

#MadLivesMatter

Mental ill health isn’t my problem or your problem – it’s everyone’s problem. We are all responsible for our mental health and that of our fellow citizens.

#MadLivesMatter

Those in positions of power are currently making a complete arse of things. 
It’s up to us – yes, you and me – to get them, help them, to change. 

Starting now.

Be part of the conversation.

Use the hashtag

#MadLivesMatter

Walk a Mile

Chris

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10/10/16 We’re a SCIO!!!!


Sorry, you’re a WHAT now? SCIO – isn’t that a yogurt? 

We’re a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation – take a look at what that is here

I think I liked the yogurt better…
After months of hard work, we’re now registered with OSCR, the Scottish Charity Regulator – take a look here

Walk a Mile in My Shoes is currently made up of 8 trustees with a great breadth and depth of knowledge of mental health and all things charity, and me.

For the uninitiated, walk a mile in my shoes, walk a mile, WAM is a community, a social movement, of like minded folk, gathered together with the primary aim to break down mental health stigma. 

It started with my walk around the edge of the UK – symbolic because that’s where people with mental health problems often find themselves – on the periphery of the mainstream…

I was motivated in my endeavour after reading ‘No destination’ by Satish Kumar, a Jain monk who went on a peace march in the ’60’s – with no money, to ensure he had the motivation to engage with folk at the end of each day, rather than putting his feet up in a variety of deluxe hotels around the world, congratulating himself on dodging the great unwashed. 

I thought if this wonderful man could walk from India into Pakistan while the two countries were at war, expecting and receiving hospitality as he went, surely I could enjoy the same reception as I walked around our lovely island.

It has been a wonderful, life affirming, experience. People – as expected – have been fabulous. 

Imagine telling folk that you’ve got a mental health problem and no money and their first reaction is to offer you hospitality. 

That’s walk a mile. 

In 2015 we started work with fine people at SeeMe Scotland with the goal of somehow distilling the success of the coastal walk in a series of events. 

Over 1300 people from different walks of life – people with a lived experience of mental ill health, carers, friends, mental health professionals and any interested parties – have gathered together over the year, walking in pairs – 

Challenging Mental Health Stigma, One Conversation at a Time

-as they literally walked a mile in each other’s shoes. 

We’ve had 15 events around Scotland so far – take a look here to get a flavour of the ongoing success of this rather lovely campaign.

Our next event is in Lanark on Saturday 15th of October- you can sign up to be part of that here

If you can’t make it Lanark, you can arrange your own event – you can be part of our ever growing campaign and we’ll support you through every step of the process. 

Take a look here for details 

We provide tailor made training too, to ensure that everyone gets the most out of walking a mile in each other’s shoes. 

The Walk a Mile in My Shoes film, by Scottish BAFTA award winning Johanna Wagner, will be premiered at the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (SMHAFF) at the Glad Cafe in Glasgow on Monday the 17th of October.

The film charts my journey around the coast and explores the impact of my mental health problems on this rather lovely endeavour.

This is the 10th anniversary of SMHAFF, you can book your free tickets for our film here

So, when someone asks you ‘Just what is Walk a Mile in My Shoes you can tell them…

It’s a coastal walk, it’s a series of events around the country, it’s bespoke training and it’s a film. 

All in the name of Challenging Mental Health Stigma. One Conversation at a Time. 

And now we’re a registered Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, with the benefit of an infrastructure, a team of knowledgeable, experienced and passionate folk who will enable us to take our campaign even further. 

So join up, sign up, arrange a walk, talk with us, walk with us…

Like our new (ish) Facebook page here

You can follow us (along with nearly 20 thousand others) on Twitter @walkamileuk

Walk a mile in my shoes 

Chris

Posted in economy, hospitality, inequality, kindness, mental health, social work, Uncategorized, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment